Modernization of water systems involves building the water distribution network of the 21st century. It involves “smart” systems to measure consumption at different times of the day, new communications networks to send data to and from utilities, and new database systems to manage and use the valuable new data which advanced systems generate. It may also involve new “smart” systems that can respond to signals automatically to turn themselves on or off, up or down. These initiatives have become reality due to the advancements in communications technologies, coupled with the reduction in cost of communication components. Adherence to widely adopted industry standards for communication interfaces creates the possibility of an open architecture. Specifically, the inclusion of Ethernet interfaces in devices deployed across the utility network can facilitate diverse, redundant access to utility infrastructure devices. Alongside these changes within the water industry, there are a number of key industry trends water system operators must contend with:
- Rising cost structures in support of water system management
- Improvements in smart water technologies to automate systems
- Increased implementation of wastewater reuse systems
- Increased focus on water conservation and leak control
- Increasing convergences of water and energy operations
- Growing demands for increased resiliency in water strategy development
Services provided by The Shpigler Group include:
- Developing plans for water AMI systems
- Implementing leak detection, pressure modulation, smart pumping, and asset management programs
- Designing and implementing smart water efforts
- Conducting cost of service analyses and rate studies
- Developing go-to-market strategies for vendors marketing to the water utility sector
- Developing AMI optimization programs to enable utilities to realize full value from their AMI systems
Examples of projects completed by The Shpigler Group include:
- Preparing system automation feasibility study for municipal four-service utility (electric, gas, water, wastewater). Evaluated economic and operational impacts of a wide variety of programs, including advanced metering, prepaid metering, connect/disconnect, smart pumping, and leak detection. Conducted iterative analysis to identify optimal business case with over 25% IRR.
- Developing a smart water strategy for a county water system. Assessed the systems providing support for water operations and developed gap analysis to identify the optimal approach to increase operational efficiencies. Developed financial model to assess the viability of automation approaches to yield additional value.
- Developing operational program to support county water system’s development of AMI system. Developed full requirements documentation, system level architecture, key performance indicators, use cases, operational impacts, and pilot scope. Assessed viability of competing communications approaches. Developed detailed budget for system implementation and provided migration plan.
- Conducting study on industry standards related to water meter failure rates. Conducted primary and secondary research to establish AMI meter failure rates to determine whether chosen vendors complied with industry norms. Conducted further research into communication issues that contributed to failure issues. Detailed best practices related to safety, accuracy, and meter lifecycle issues. Profiled outstanding requirements related to deployment planning, data mapping, and work processes to ensure capturing maximum value from the project.
- Developing smart grid and smart water assessment on behalf of municipal utility. Developed detailed business model to evaluate the elements of advanced metering and smart water that would create positive value for the utility and its customers. Developed detailed plan for implementation and assessed the viability of past technical decisions that had been made.
- Developing assessment of AMI system for municipal electric and water distribution system. Developed comprehensive business case for a number of AMI-enabled use cases to identify the optimal network approach. Developed migration strategy to incorporate elements of the IT/OT infrastructure. Identified risk factors and developed comprehensive set of operating recommendations. Developed plan for communications network to support community’s needs.
- Developing a set of full-day educational sessions on behalf of statewide water utility association. Developed materials for the benefit of water system operators to highlight key issues and trends within the industry. Key areas of focus included infrastructure condition, personnel capabilities, meter data management, water quality, customer communications, and operating practices and costs. Facilitated discussion among system operators and highlighted case studies.
- Preparing Request for Proposals for advanced metering project. Developed Request for Proposals to be delivered to meter manufacturers and communications systems vendors. Developed “grading worksheet” with embedded rating methodology to evaluate bid responses gathered from RFP process. Conducted financial analysis of network requirements proposed by vendors.
- Developing detailed assessment of smart water system. Developed business case associated with a smart water system suitable for distribution footprint and developed cost justification for system. Performed assessment of variety of programs and applications to identify which ones are forecasted to add value given the city’s layout and infrastructure. Developed operational roadmap to implement optimal infrastructure.
- Developing optimization program for municipal electric and water utility that was dealing with operational challenges associated with their AMI system. Developed financial and operational model to identify the value potential of fourteen different use cases that could be implemented with the AMI system. Conducted analysis on existing operating systems and identified new data mapping approaches to unleash additional value of the existing system. Worked with utility staff to develop new work processes to take full advantage of existing AMI network.
- Developing operational efforts for municipal water system to optimize the value of the existing AMI system. Developed technical elements for deployment planning, including staffing requirements, system level architecture, key performance indicators, use cases, technical requirements, operational impacts, and pilot scope. Supported entire procurement process, including development of RFP and management of the entire bidding process.
- Authored industry report for North American electric, natural gas, pipeline, and water utility executives to address the criticality of communications and information technology for global utilities as they migrate to the next generation infrastructures. Evaluated the major technology trends and presented case for direction of critical infrastructure community. Evaluated the significant industry programs that are currently exploring next-generation technology options and presented options that offer best practices. Assessed technology implications for financial and operational aspects of utility business. Highlighted forward-looking trends and presented case for optimal smart water strategies.
- Performing analysis of advanced metering project on behalf of Canadian water utility. Performed econometric analysis to more precisely identify true cost and benefit projections for planned deployment. Provided guidance on economic impacts of a variety of applications of AMI.
- Developing analysis of municipal smart water system. Evaluated variety of system automation approaches, including water use management, conservation, advanced metering, and updated water SCADA system deployment. Developed detailed financial and operational model that evaluated financial and environmental impacts